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in the Collection of the Cooper-Hewitt Museum 

The Smithsonian Institutions 
National Museum of Design 






in the Collection of the Cooper-Hewitt Museum 
The Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Design 


Border of withdrawn element work with scenes 
from the Biblical story of Judith and Holofernes 
Portugal, about 1600, Linen, Height: 7 in. 
Bequest of Richard Greenleaf in memory of his 
mother, Adeline Emma Greenleaf, 1962-50-2 3a 

Inside front cover: 

Man's bobbin-made collar 

Northern Europe, 2nd half 17th century 

Linen and metal-wrapped silk 

Bequest of Richard Greenleaf in memory of his 

mother, Adeline Emma Greenleaf, 1962-50-91 

Inside back cover: 

Bobbin-made hanging 

Designed by Luba Krejci (born 1925) 

Czechoslovakia, 1964, Linen, Diameter: 39'/2 in. 

Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Herbert Paskow, 1982-9-1 

Photographs by Scott Hyde 
Design by Miriam Haas 
Typesetting by LCR Graphics Inc. 
Printing by The Ram Press 

© 1982 by the Smithsonian Institution 

All rights reserved 

Library of Congress Catalog No. 82-72120 


The Cooper-Hewitt Museum is fortunate in 
having an exquisite and rare collection of early 
needle- and bobbin-made laces representing a 
rich variety of patterns and techniques. Tradi- 
tionally made of linen, this seemingly fragile 
fabric is both relatively sturdy and breath- 
takingly sensual, a quality which, regrettably, 
cannot be conveyed through a publication. 

Prior to machine production, lace was avail- 
able only to the powerful and rich. Fortunes 
were paid for it, and in certain places its use 
was strictly regulated. Although the process of 
making lace inexpensively by machine extended 
both its audience and its use, machine-made 
lace, too, finally lost its popularity as fashions 
and life-styles changed. Happily, there has 
been a revival of interest in lace, and it is once 
again being enjoyed and appreciated by more 
than a limited, wealthy public. 

The publication of this handbook on the 
Cooper-Hewitt's collection of lace marks a 

happy occasion. It celebrates the formal opening 
of the Museum's Textile Study Center, the con- 
struction of which was made possible through 
an immensely generous gift from Thomas Mellon 
Evans and the kind support of the Milliken 
Foundation. In addition, it coincides with the 
exhibition Lace, sponsored by the New York 
State Council on the Arts, with thoughtful con- 
tributions from the Andrew W. Mellon Founda- 
tion and the Wellington Foundation, as well as 
gifts from Brunschwig & Fils, Inc.; Liberty 
Fabrics of New York, Inc.; Fieldcrest; the 
American Fabrics Company; Lady Lynne Lin- 
gerie, Inc.; Klauber Brothers, Inc.; and Alice 
Baldwin Beer, Curator Emeritus of the Cooper- 
Hewitt Museum, who recently died at the age 
of 94 and to whom this publication is lovingly 
dedicated. We are deeply grateful to these patrons, 
as well as to the many discriminating collectors 
whose gifts have enabled the Museum to build 
an extraordinary collection of lace. 

Lisa Taylor 

1. Border of withdrawn element work with attached bobbin-made edging 
Italy, mid- to late 16th century, Linen, Height: IVi in. 
Bequest of Richard Greenleaf in memory of his 
mother, Adeline Emma Greenleaf, 1962-50-35 

I he word lace is derived from the Latin 
laqueus: a noose, snare, or trap, a meaning that 
it retained in English into the seventeenth cen- 
tury. From the fourteenth century, lace has 
meant a cord, string, thread, or tie; specifically, 
a cord used to draw together opposite edges by 
being passed in and out through eyelets or holes 
and then pulled tight. Laces were used in this 
way to attach sleeves to tunics and to secure 
bodices. Closer to our own time, corsets were 
laced, and we still lace our shoes. By the six- 
teenth century, lace also referred to ornamental 
braid, usually of gold and silver. Edward Hall 
in the Union of Noble and Illustre Families of Lan- 
caster and York (1548) describes ". . . flatte golde 
of Damaske with small lace myxed between of 
the same golde, and other laces of the same 
goying traverse wyse, that the ground little ap- 
peared." This use continued into the nineteenth 
century, referring to the trimmings on uniforms. 

Since as early as the sixteenth century, lace 
has also identified certain openly constructed 
fabrics. Today the word lace has a less restricted 
meaning and used alone does not identify a spe- 
cific structure or type of fabric, but one that is 
light in weight, flexible, and patterned by a 
contrast in densities created by deliberately 

placed holes, or open and closed spaces. Many 
techniques can be used to produce such a fabric. 
For example, looping, knitting, crocheting, and 
netting can be used to produce a tight or open 
structure, as can sprang, braiding, and mac- 
rame. Weaving techniques can deflect warps and 
wefts, or both, to vary density, and a number 
of techniques can be used to change the density 
of previously made fabrics. Net, mesh, or gauze 
can be embellished with a needle and thread to 
create dense areas. Holes can be cut into a 
woven fabric to create a pattern; warps, wefts, 
or both can be removed from a woven fabric 
to form the foundation for needlework; or warps 
and wefts of a woven fabric can be forced out of 
alignment by a needleworked thread. 

But of all of the various kinds of laces, the 
two that are technically, historically, and artisti- 
cally most interesting are those made with a 
needle and those made with bobbins. Both of 
these techniques evolved in Western Europe to 
a degree of fineness found nowhere else in the 
world. The principles from which needle- and 
bobbin-made laces evolved are simple — the skills 
required to produce such breathtakingly fine 
fabrics are nearly incomprehensible. The history 
of these laces spans five hundred years or more 


and winds in and out of Western European 
changes in taste, technology, and politics. Laces 
can be identified according to decade and coun- 
try or region of manufacture, but individual lace 
makers and designers are rarely known. 

Needle-made lace is based on one of the old- 
est and most universal techniques: looping. 
Only a single element, or yarn, is required, one 
end of which is threaded through a needle, the 
other end of which is attached to the structure. 
Simple looping is built up from a series of loops 
worked one row into another, using the same 
movements as in buttonhole stitch in embroi- 
dery or half hitch in knotting. 

The foundations to which looping is attached 
define the three early types of needle-made lace. 
The first is a foundation of woven fabric in 
which warps and wefts have been removed, or 
withdrawn, leaving a grid to which looping and 
other needlework can be attached. Patterns are 
confined within the grid of the foundation or 
superimposed upon it (figure 1 and Cover). In 
Italian pattern books of the sixteenth and seven- 
teenth centuries, work of this type is usually 
called punto tagliato. A second type of work, 
known as reticella in the sixteenth and seven- 
teenth centuries, is constructed on a foundation 
of narrow flat braids or heavy cords or both, 
which cross each other at right angles. This, 
too, imposes a geometric base on the design, but 
usually one that is larger in scale than the with- 
drawn element type (figure 2). The third tech- 
nique was referred to in Italy as punto in aria 
and, as its name implies, is less restricted in de- 
sign than the other two. The support for punto 
in aria work is a cord, not a geometric grid. 
This allows for the construction, motif by mo- 
tif, of curvilinear designs. While the lace is 

being made, the foundation cord is held in place 
by couching it to a firm paper or similar mate- 
rial that has been marked with the outlines of 
the pattern. The paper backing is cut away 
when the lace is completed, leaving a free- 
standing fabric (figures 3-6). In all three types, 
punto tagliato, reticella, and punto in aria, looping 
fills in the blank spaces of the design. The 
foundations are incorporated into the designs, 
although they can never be disguised. 

In the late sixteenth and early seventeenth 
centuries, details of the design were emphasized 
with knotted stitches, wrapped cords, or small 
loops. By mid- seventeenth century, buttonhole 
stitches were padded to form surprisingly high 
relief shapes on the edges of motifs (figures 12 
and 13). This type of lace was a speciality of 
Venice and was copied by the French in the 
second half of the century. Late in the seven- 
teenth century, when bold relief was no longer 
in fashion, lighter and more flexible laces 
became popular. Usually the entire surface of 
these delicate fabrics was deftly worked with 
tiny loops, rosettes, and little bars. Prior to 
1700, surfaces became even less textured, and 
the foundation cord was expressively used for 
the delineation of human figures, animals, birds, 
and flowers. The only other significant develop- 
ment in technique was the introduction, at 
about the same time, of a variation of looping 
which incorporates a twist in each row and 
makes it possible to create small-scale patterns 
with a minimum build-up of yarn. For a brief 
period in the early eighteenth century the laces 
made using this technique were astonishingly 
light in weight and exquisitely designed. 

The term bobbin-made refers to laces made 
with a set of many elements, or yarns, each at- 

2. Needle-made reticella band 

England or Spain, early 17-th century, Linen, Height: 6 in. 
Bequest of Richard Greenleaf in memory of his 
mother, Adeline Emma Greenleaf 1962-50-210 

tached to a bobbin and manipulated in a man- 
ner similar to that used in braiding. Each 
bobbin has a supply of yarn wound onto it and 
functions both as a weight and as a means to 
keep elements from tangling and unraveling. 
The term pillow lace, which is also used to 
describe this group of laces, refers to the com- 
monly used support for the work, which resem- 
bles a pillow in shape and a large pin cushion 
in function. Bobbin-made laces are generally 
constructed on top of a carefully made guide, 
known as a pricking, which indicates where pins 

should be inserted to hold the lace to the desired 
shape as work progresses. 

The structures of all bobbin-made laces are 
derived from a four element flat braid — -an over 
one, under one diagonal interlacing. Such four- 
element interlacing is made up of two move- 
ments: first, with the four elements divided into 
two pairs, a Z-cross of each pair, and, then, an 
S-cross of the two middle elements. By control- 
ling the number of Z and S crossings of the 
basic movements, and the number of elements, 
various types of structures can be made. 





From as early as the sixteenth century, bob- 
bin-made laces were of two types: those in 
which the elements interworked with each other 
continuously throughout the entire fabric (fig- 
ures 7 and 8) and those in which elements were 
begun and finished in specific areas, most often 
to produce separate motifs (figures 9-11). The 
first type includes metallic laces, which have 
been made throughout the history of lace as 
trimmings to be sewn flat against furnishings 
and clothing. The cities of Mechlin, Binche, 
Valenciennes, and Lille, among others, became 
famous for the production of fine linen laces 
with continuous yarns (figure 25). The second 
type of bobbin-made lace, in which elements 
interwork to produce separate sections, has a 
different aesthetic and is made by several differ- 
ent methods. Motifs can be made individually, 
one motif attached to another in various ways. 
A section can be started, such as the tip of a 
leaf, and then developed into a broad dense 
area, with yarn added to increase width or taken 
out to decrease it. Frequently, separately made 
pieces are held together by yet another set of 
yarns linked into them (figure 10), a technique 
used to its greatest advantage in Brussels lace 
(figure 17). 

Bobbin-made lace, like its needle-made coun- 
terpart, was tightly worked during all of the 
sixteenth and most of the seventeenth century. 
As the industry grew, as techniques became 
more refined, and as fashions changed, struc- 
tures opened up and spread across broader 
areas, producing light-weight fabrics with an 
evenly textured surface. A significant advance 
in the second half of the seventeenth century, 
most likely in Flanders, was the development of 
a structure in which a single yarn is interlaced, 
back and forth and over and under the others, 
and held in place by the diagonal crossings of 
the other elements, making it easier to produce 
an even lighter lace. 

The choice of yarn for a lace depended on 
how the fabric would be used, the availability 
of fibers, and the desired effect. Metallic yarns 
were selected for their richness and luster and, 
because of their stiffness, were suitable for ap- 
plication to surfaces. Silk, which is flexible, was 
either used for costumes and accessories where 
drape contributed to its effectiveness or it was 
combined with metal, which gave it the support 
it inherently lacked. Silk has the added advan- 
tage that it can be dyed bright colors. Cotton 
and wool are more often found in "peasant 

3. top: Needle-made edging 

Italy, late 16th century, Linen, Height: 1% in. 

Bequest of Richard Greenleaf in memory of his mother, Adeline Emma Greenleaf, 1962-50-194 

4. center: Needle-made edging 

Italy, late 16th century, Linen, Height: 2Vi in. 

Bequest of Richard Greenleaf in memory of his mother, Adeline Emma Greenleaf, 1962-50-29c 

After a pattern published by Isabella Catanea Parasole in Rome in 1597. 

5. bottom: Four needle-made tabs sewn to a withdrawn element work band 
Italy, early 17th century, Linen, Height: 414 in. 

Bequest of Richard Greenleaf in memory of his mother, Adeline Emma Greenleaf, 1962-50-217 

6. Needle-made edging with raised outlines 
Italy, early 17th century, Linen, Height: SVi in. 
Gift of Mrs. Morris Hawkes, 1945-9-5 

laces." Cotton has a short, crimped fiber and 
cannot be spun into a yarn that is strong enough 
for lace, although in the second half of the 
nineteenth century, mercerization and machine 
spinning made it suitable for some laces, partic- 
ularly machine-made. The fibers of wool are 
also crimped and too short for yarn for fine 
lace, although mohair and other long -staple 
glossy hairs have been used. 

The yarn preferred above all others, and by 
far the most successful for needle- and bobbin- 
made laces, is linen. The long staple length of 
flax and its tensile strength make it possible to 
produce extremely fine linen yarn that can be 
worked into fabrics whose strength belies their 
fragile appearance. Natural stiffness gives fine 

openly worked linen lace a unique crisp quality. 
Since flax accepts water readily, linen can be 
starched to an even greater degree of stiffness. 
Until this century linen was next to impossible 
to dye, although it could be bleached to a bright 
white, an effect which was further intensified 
by the reflection of light from the hard glossy 
surfaces of the fibers. 

Books containing patterns specifically for 
embroidery and lace were available in Europe 
through most of the sixteenth and into the sev- 
enteenth century, and the period of their publi- 
cation marks the first great period of lace 
manufacture. The first known publication ap- 
peared in Augsburg in 1523. Although most of 
the patterns published in the 1520s and 1530s 


were for free-form and counted embroidery, a 
number were for withdrawn element work. In 
1542, in Venice, Mathio Pagano published a 
book with patterns for pun to tagliato (withdrawn 
element work) and punto groposso (the needle- 
made fillings). Pagano's work through the 1540s 
and 1550s progressed from patterns that were 
tight and geometric to ones that were bolder, 
animated, curvilinear, and on a slightly larger 
grid. The Cooper-Hewitt Collection contains 
several pieces that are closely related to patterns 
by Pagano (figure 1), along with the supreme 
achievement in withdrawn element work from 
this period, a depiction of the Old Testament 
story of Judith and Holofernes that was worked 
in about 1600 (see Cover). 

In 1554 Pagano published La Gloria e HHonore 
di Ponti Tagliati e Ponti in Aere. No doubt the 
second term refers to a fully developed needle 
technique for lace. The title page shows two 
women working with a needle on what could be 
lace. In the second half of the century, the trend 
was toward specialization, and techniques 
become easy to identify. 

Between 1557 and 1559, Giovanni Battista 
and Marchio Sessa published four editions of Le 
Pompe, the first known pattern book specifically 
for bobbin-made lace. The patterns are unmis- 
takably those for laces to be made with bobbins: 
angles and curves change direction, and openly 
worked sections lead into solid ones in a manner 
consistent with bobbin techniques. Some 
patterns are straight edged and of the same 
density as metallic structures, while others have 
triangular and rounded tabs on one edge and 
have been drawn with an understanding of fully 
developed techniques. 

Animated and floral bands from this period 

are frequently constructed by the repetition of 
two units, each placed end to end, alternately 
in different directions. Mermaids, animals, 
birds, and flowers were all incorporated into in- 
ventive geometric patterns suitable for reticella. 
In Nouveau Pourtraicts de Point Coupe et Dentelles 
en Petite Moyenne et Grande Forme, published by 
Jacques Foillet in Montbeliard in 1598, the 
patterns are arranged in order of complexity and 
size. Those for tab edges begin with "bien 
petites," and progress through "petites," "moy- 
ennes" and "gross," with the last called "La fin 
corone l'oeuvre." 

The tab-edged border was a prominent design 
element in the sixteenth and seventeenth centu- 
ries. Tabs were pointed at first, no doubt 
reflecting the natural shape of needle-worked 
ornaments on the edges of fabrics (figure 3), but 
soon became curved and fully rounded to 
accommodate bobbin techniques and more elab- 
orate patterns (figure 8). They were used to 
accentuate the edges of the stiff ruffs, collars, 
and cuffs that were popular with both men and 
women. In the seventeenth century, tabs 
became extremely large and were shown off 
proudly on large white collars, made brighter 
by the black silk velvet and damask on which 
they fell. Each tab was a self-contained unit, 
generally filled with flowers, but sometimes 
with urns of flowers and double-headed eagles 
(figure 9). Many of these patterns were meticu- 
lously rendered in portraits by Northern Euro- 
pean painters of the time. 

Not many pattern books were published in 
the seventeenth century, a few showing designs 
for embroidery were published in German 
cities, but the five published by Bartolomeo 
Danieli in Bologna between 1610 and 1642 rep- 


7. Bobbin-made edging 

Italy, late 16th century, Silk and metal-wrapped silk, Height: 314 in. 

Gift of Irwin Untermyer, 1950-29-5 

resent the highest achievement in Italian lace 
design. The diminished publication of pattern 
books no doubt signals the shift in lace produc- 
tion from palace or home workshops to more 
commercial workshops that operated on a more 
competitive scale. The details of technique were 
no doubt kept secret, just as they are today in 
some lace -making centers, and the sources of 
fine materials were jealously guarded. Venice 
was the most famous production center of the 
century, its speciality being bold and vigorous 
floral vine patterns embellished with shapes in 
high relief (figure 12). Venetian laces are 
surprisingly heavy and have great tension be- 
tween the dense, thick opaque areas and the fine 
bars holding them together (figure 13). 

The floral vines that appeared in the middle 
of the century were effectively used in long 
bands. The repeats of those bands are up to 
seventeen inches long and are unbroken by any 
sort of grid. The new form of men's collars — 

a flat band that was attached at the neck of the 
shirt, with two panels that hung down the front 
of the shirt — were patterned by vines, the 
scrolling ends of which symmetrically fill each 
front panel (figure 12). Later in the century, this 
collar was replaced by the cravat, a long plain 
band of linen tied around the neck, with a lace 
panel sewn to each end (figure 15). As time 
passed, the curving floral vine with relief details 
became smaller in scale and more delicate in 
drawing. Repeats increased in length from 17 
inches to between 20 and 26 inches. Fashion 
now called for delicate laces that would drape, 
which increased the demand for linen of the 
finest quality. The new commercial era had 
suddenly shifted into high gear. 

The traditional source for quality linen was 
the Netherlands, on the watershed leading to 
the North Sea, or what became Belgium and 
Holland. The history of this part of Europe has 
interesting parallels with that of lace, for the 


struggle for ownership was primarily between 
France and Spain. In 1519 Spain gained control 
of the Netherlands, and the French found 
themselves in the uncomfortable position of 
being trapped between the Spanish on two 
frontiers. After years of conflict with Spain, the 
staunchly Protestant northern half of the Span- 
ish Netherlands succeeded in becoming the 
United Provinces, what today is The Nether- 
lands, or Holland. The Catholic southern half 
remained in Spanish hands as the Spanish 
Netherlands, or what today is Belgium. As part 
of a settlement of war with Spain in 1659, Louis 

XIV received several towns within the Spanish 
Netherlands, on the fringes of the coveted linen 
industry. He also received Marie Therese, the 
eldest daugher of Philip IV of Spain, as his 
wife. As part of the marriage contract, Marie 
Therese had to give up claim to her inheritance 
when she married Louis, in return for a huge 
dowry. What followed is so closely associated 
with lace as to give it major political impor- 
tance. After the death of his father-in-law, 
Philip IV of Spain, in 1665, Louis laid claim to 
the Spanish Netherlands on the grounds that 
his wife's dowry had not been paid. That same 

8. Bobbin-made tab-edged band 

The Spanish Netherlands (Belgium), early 17th century, Linen, Height: 5!4 in. 

Bequest of Marian Hague, 1971-50-347 



9. Bobbin-made tab-edged band 

Italy (?), 1st half 17th century, Linen, Height: SV2 

Pauline Riggs Noyes Fund, 1956-17-1 

year, Louis issued a proclamation establishing 
a state-supported lace industry in France. In the 
beginning of the proclamation he made it clear 
that he wished to strengthen the economy and 
to prevent money from flowing out of the 
country, including, no doubt, the large sums of 
money that must have been going from France 
to Spain for the purchase of lace from the 
Spanish Netherlands. The French laces were to 
be made in the manner of the needle- and bob- 
bin-made laces of Venice, Genoa, and other 
countries. (Louis, slyly, did not mention The 
Netherlands by name.) The French products 
were to supply the Royal House and the court 
and were to be known as "points de France." 


Colbert was made superintendent of the new 
industry, and the entrepreneurs serving under 
him were given nine years to establish it. The 
proclamation specifies that thirty women who 
were masters of lace making were to be brought 
to France from Venice, along with two hundred 
of the best women and girls from Flanders. 
These workers were to become French citizens 
and were to be distributed to eight cities which 
lay in a ring around Paris. In the south, in the 
Auvergne, it was Aurillac; to the southwest, 
Laudon; and to the west, Alengon. The remain- 
ing five were spread out in the northwest: Cha- 
teau-Thierry and Rheims, and the three that 
were closest to the border of the Spanish Neth- 

10. top: Bobbin-made edging 

Italy (?), late 16th century, Linen, Height: 2Vi in. 

Bequest of Marian Hague, 1971-50-362 

1 1 . bottom: Bobbin-made edging 

Italy (?) , early 17th century, Linen, Height: 5 in. 

Bequest of Richard Greenleaf in memory 

of his mother, Adeline Emma Greenleaf, 



12. left: Man's needle-made collar 

Italy or France, 2nd half 17th century, Linen. 
Bequest of Richard Greenleaf in memory of his 
mother, Adeline Emma Greenleaf, 1962-50-28 

13. below. Detail of figure 12. 



erlands, Arras, Quesnoy, and Sedan. The pro- 
clamation points out that there were already a 
considerable number of lace workers in Aurillac, 
Sedan, and Alencon. At the end of two years 
Louis expected to employ 1600 girls who would 
be supplied designs by artists under his em- 
ploy. Seven shops were to be opened, four in 
Paris (including one in the Louvre). Workers 
were not to be discharged for any reason — a 
rule the police were to enforce. The shops could 
show the royal coat of arms and the inscription 
Manufacture Royale des Points, Passements, et Ouv- 
rages de Fil de France. In addition, each city was 
given a certain amount of financial support. 
The proclamation was signed by Louis and 
others, including Colbert. 

Two years after issuing his Lace Proclama- 
tion, Louis initiated his first war and marched 
through the Spanish Netherlands and into the 
United Provinces to claim his wife's inheritance. 
At the end of the war, in 1668, he received 
twelve fortified towns on the border, including 
the now familiar lace centers of Binche and 
Lille. Louis's second war began in 1672, two 
years before his nine-year deadline for establish- 
ing a lace industry in France. Louis was unable 
to gain control of all of the Netherlands, and 
in the settlement of 1678-79, a number of cities 
were restored to Spain, including Binche, 
although France gained some cities this time, 
among them, Valenciennes. 

In the 1680s Louis was at the height of his 
power, and it is from this period that we can 
begin to identify French-made laces (figure 14). 
His economic system was working, except that 
huge sums of money were sacrificed for his 
war in the Netherlands and the building of 
Versailles, to the detriment of other programs 


14. Section of a needle-made flounce with raised details 
France, 1670s, Linen, Height: 24K2 in. 
Gift of Richard Greenleaf in memory of his 
mother, Adeline Emma Greenleaf, 1950-121-36 


15. Needle-made cravat end 
France, late 1690s, Linen, Height: 9 3 4 in. 
Bequest of Richard Greenleaf in memory of his 
mother, Adeline Emma Greenleaf, 1962-50-18a 

which in the long run would have made France 
stronger in more areas. Lace was used extrava- 
gantly now for dresses, aprons, flounces for 
dressing tables, and bed furnishings. One of the 
most unusual uses was in a fashionable lace 
headdress, usually ornamented with diamonds 
and ribbons, that was worn perched on top of 
the head, tilted forward at a beaklike angle. 
Hanging from the back of the headdress were 
long streamers, which were sometimes worn 
pinned up. They were called barbes in French 
and lappets in English. Lace streamers also hung 

from the sides of the headdresses and covered 
the ears (figures 16 and 17). 

Louis's third war, fought on the German 
frontier, rocked the French economy and the 
lace industry. Practically every European power 
rallied against France, the strongest of them 
being the Anglo-Dutch alliance cemented by 
William of Orange of Holland, who was chosen 
king of England in 1688. Louis could not sus- 
tain a struggle against so many adversaries, and 
by the Treaty of Ryswick in 1697 was forced 
to give up his fortresses in the Spanish Nether- 


16. Pair of 
needle-made cap 
streamers with 
raised details, 
France, 1690s, 
Linen, Length: 
27 in. 
Bequest of 
Greenleaf in 
memory of his 
mother, Adeline 
Emma Greenleaf 

17. Pair of 
cap streamers, 
Brussels, late 
17th century, 
Linen, Length: 
20Vi in. 

Gift of Richard 
Greenleaf in 
memory of his 
mother, Adeline 
Emma Greenleaf 




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18. Pair of 
needle-made cap 
The Spanish 
(Belgium), early 
18th century, 
Linen, Length: 
26 in. 

Gift of Richard 
Greenleaf in 
memory of his 
mother, Adeline 
Emma Greenleaf 

19. Pair of 
cap streamers, 
Brussels, 1st 
half 18th 
century, Linen, 
Length: 25 in. 
Bequest of 
Greenleaf in 
memory of his 
mother, Adeline 
Emma Greenleaf 


20. Bobbin-made 

cravat end 

Brussels, 1st half 18th 


Linen, Height: HV2 in. 

Purchase in memory of 

the Council 1947-99-1 

lands. In spite of the fact that Louis in the end 
could not control the lands in which the finest 
linen yarn was made, he saw to it that French 
design dominated the industry. 

After the fall of the towering head piece, 
small caps with streamers attached to them be- 
came popular. The streamers, which were 
broader at the top, and varied in length and 
overall shape, formed a perfectly matched sym- 
metrical pair of self-contained design units 
which frequently displayed patterns that coordi- 
nated with those on the crown and ruffle of 
the cap. The rectangular format of the streamers 

gave the designer the opportunity to fill the 
space with a non-repeating composition. The 
essence of fine eighteenth-century lace design 
can be found in the cap streamers collected by 
Richard Greenleaf, and now in the Cooper- 
Hewitt Museum (figures 16-19). The densely 
packed fruits and flowers that lavish many 
streamers (figure 19), and the equally important 
vertical patterns of the 1720s (figure 21), have 
close parallels in the patterned silks from the 
first two decades of the century. 

A great deal of care was also given to the de- 
sign and execution of the panels attached to 


men's cravats (figure 20). They were generally 
less stately and austere than the cap streamers 
and were patterned with self-contained hunting 
scenes and mythological figures. The gardens 
and fountains that were planned and built with 
great care in the seventeenth and eighteenth 
centuries were also popular motifs, both on 
these fine lace cravat ends and as repeats on 
horizontal bands and wide borders. 

Another popular use of lace in the eighteenth 
century was as trim on the elbow-length sleeves 
of women's dresses. Usually three gathered 
bands of three layers were attached to the 
sleeve. The bands increased in width as they 
descended to just above the wrist, and they en- 
circled the lower arm in huge arcs. 

As the eighteenth century progressed, both 
needle-made and bobbin-made nets covered in- 

creasingly broader areas (figure 22), so that by 
mid-century motifs were isolated on a net back- 
ground. After a momentary flourish in the 
1760s (figure 23), lace designs became merely 
decorative and lost the power and drama they 
had had in previous decades. 

By the end of the eighteenth century, men 
had begun to limit the amount of lace they 
wore, and the cravat with lace was replaced by 
a plain band tied around the neck. Lace was 
used only to trim the cuffs and the front of the 
shirt. Women's dresses had also become more 
restrained in color, pattern, and material, 
although laces were used as trimmings. 

When Napoleon came into power, he tried to 
revive the French lace industry, which had suf- 
fered greatly as a result of the Revolution. A 
much cited commission is the set of bed fur- 

21. Needle-made flounce with raised details 
France, 1720-30, Linen, Height: 23!4 in. 
Susan Dwight Bliss, 1967-46-28 

22. Bobbin-made flounce 

Brussels, mid-18th century, Linen, Height: 25 in. 
Gift of Richard Greenleaf in memory of his 
mother, Adeline Emma Greenleaf, 1950-121-44 

nishings that Josephine ordered at Alencon, but 
which, by the time they were completed, went 
to his second wife, the Empress, Marie Louise 
of Austria. The hangings display a fine use of 
recognizable flowers, the lily being a dominant 
motif (figure 24). The Cooper-Hewitt Collection 
also includes a number of laces made for Napo- 
leon's marriage to Marie Louise in 1810, and 
numerous drawings for lace and embroidery, 
important among them being those for Napo- 
leon, which incorporate all of the motifs associ- 
ated with him. 

In the nineteenth century, men no longer 
wore lace, and it was due to the influence of 
the queens of the century that fine hand-made 


laces continued to be produced. For the most 
part the needle- and bobbin-making industries 
declined, having succumbed to machine produc- 
tion and specialized local industries using hand- 
made openwork techniques. By the 1850s a 
white lace veil and dress were the choice of the 
middle-class bride for her wedding — the one 
day in her life when she could appear dressed 
like a queen. 

Although lace designers relied on all of the 
styles prevalent in the nineteenth century, their 
most significant contribution was the use of 
naturalism. More flowers can be correctly iden- 
tified in laces from this period than from any 
other (figure 26). Baroque and rococo styles 

23. Section of a bobbin-made flounce 
Brussels, 1760s, Linen, Height: 24'/2 in. 
Gift of Richard Greenleaf in memory of his 
mother, Adeline Emma Greenleaf, 1950-121-45 


24. Section of the border of a 
needle-made bed furnishing 
produced by Clerambault • 
Alencon, France, about 1810 
Linen, Repeat: 1 1 Va in. 
Bequest of Richard Greenleaf in 
memory of his mother, Adeline 
Emma Greenleaf, 1962-50-69 

25. Bobbin-made coat of arms of 
Napoleon I 

Lille, France, after 1804 
Linen, 14!4 x 13 3 4 in. 
Bequest of Richard Greenleaf in 
memory of his mother, Adeline 
Emma Greenleaf, 1962-50-317 



26. Border: needle and bobbin-made motifs sewn to machine-made net 
Brussels, Belgium, late 19th century. Linen, Height: 13 in. 
Gift of Frances Morris, 1951-111-75 

were revived, including in the 1860s the use of 
the eighteenth-century fashion for cap streamers. 
The most popular and longest lasting styles for 
interiors were revivals of the Italian and Spanish 
Renaissance. Heavy tables were invariably cov- 
ered with red damask, on top of which were 
placed lace cloths worked in an appropriate 
Renaissance revival pattern. 

Whereas lace had previously depended for its 
sale and development on the support of the 
wealthy and on the patronage of duchesses, 
kings, emperors, and the church, in the nine- 
teenth century it was saved from extinction by 
businessmen, reformers, and individuals anxious 
to preserve local traditions and to provide a 
source of income for workers. In the second 
half of the century a great many important six- 

teenth- and seventeenth-century pattern books 
were reprinted by publishers in Vienna, 
Leipzig, Venice, Bergamo, Paris, Berlin, and 
London, in support of the revival of interest in 
antique laces and embroideries. Practically 
every country was involved in this revival, even 
the United States, which had a weak lace tradi- 
tion. There were several embroidery and lace- 
making societies in this country, among them 
one started in 1890 by Sybil Carter, an Episco- 
pal missionary who taught lace and embroidery 
techniques to American Indians across the na- 
tion (figure 28). Notable among the industries in 
Europe was that set up in 1872 on the island 
of Burano near Venice, one of whose customers 
was J. P. Morgan. In Bologna the Aemilia Ars 
Association produced lace commissions for the 


Vanderbilts and Baches, among other important 
patrons. Their products were extraordinarily 
fine, and some are still being mistaken for older 
works. In the Cooper-Hewitt, the apron from 
the Greenleaf Collection is such an example of 
recently uncovered identity (figure 29). 

In the early twentieth century, laces were 
made in the styles of the major design move- 
ments. Many laces were produced in Central 
Europe, particularly in Vienna, and were based 
on "peasant" styles and techniques that were 
compatible with modern design. The majority 
of the patrons of the industry and the collectors 
were anxious, however, to have traditional laces. 
Late in the nineteenth century and into the 
twentieth, antique laces were commonly re- 

shaped to be used over again and were some- 
times tinted in tea or coffee to add the 
appearance of greater age. High prices were 
paid for laces up until the 1940s, and a surpris- 
ing number of collections were formed. Mrs. 
Henry Clay Frick had hers mounted on boards 
covered with blue simulated leather, with her 
name stamped in gold on each and with a com- 
panion catalog. Many delightful teas were had 
to admire friends' treasures, and out of such 
meetings developed the Needle and Bobbin 
Club, incorporated in New York in 1916. 

Two of the founding members of the Needle 
and Bobbin Club generously supported the 
Cooper-Hewitt Museum. Marian Hague, a 
teacher, writer, and collector, and an advisor to 

27. Machine-made band 

France, 1920s, Silk, Repeat: 4 in. 

General Purchase Fund, 1982-5-1 


28. Bobbin-made lampshade cover 

Made by the Sioux Tribe, Minnesota, for the Sybil Carter Indian Lace Association 

New York, early 20th century, Linen, Height of band: 12 J4 in. 

Gift of Mrs. Bayard Cutting in memory of Mary Parsons, 1943-44-2 

the Textile Department, helped the Museum set 
up lace study cards, a set of which was circu- 
lated to schools. Her own collection, rich in 
technically interesting historic laces and em- 
broideries, came to the Museum after her death 
in 1971. Richard Greenleaf, who collected laces 
and embroideries in France, also gave the Mu- 
seum many fine fabrics. For ten years prior to 
his death and bequest in 1962, he, too, acted 
as an advisor to the Museum, and his remark- 
able laces and embroideries are the backbone of 
the Museum's lace collection. 

After a lapse of over thirty years, interest in 


lace making and historical laces has been re- 
awakened in this country and abroad. Several 
notable centers of lace making exist today, with 
contemporary designs being produced in Czech- 
oslovakia, Belgium, France, and England. And, 
although their number is small, here and there 
can be found artists, teachers, and rare individ- 
uals who are learning historical lace techniques 
for pleasure. Since it is now extremely difficult 
to collect handmade laces, the Cooper-Hewitt 
is fortunate to have a collection to serve this re- 
newed interest. 

Milton Sonday 
Curator of Textiles 

29. Apron with needle-made borders and tassels 

produced by the Aemilia Ars Association 

Bologna, Italy, early 20th century, Linen, Height of lower border: IVa in. 

Gift of Richard Greenleaf in memory of his mother, Adeline Kmma Greenleaf, 1950-121-1 


Selected Bibliography 

Abegg, Margaret. Apropos Patterns for Embroidery, 
Lace and Woven Textiles. 
Abegg-Stiftung, Bern, 1978. 

Coppens, Marguerite. Kant uit Belgie van de 
Zestiende Eeuw Tot Heden. 
Volkskundemuseum, Antwerp, 1981. 

Henneberg, Alfred von. The Art and Craft of Old Lace. 
E. Weyhe, New York, 1931. 

Ricci, Elisa. Merletti e Ricami della Aemilia Ars. 
Bestetti & Tumminelli, Milan/Rome, 1929. New edition 
with foreword by Rosaria Campioni. 
University Press, Bologna, 1981. 

Risselin-Steenebrugen, M. Trois Siecles de Dentelles 

aux Musies Royaux a" Art et PHistoire. 

Musees Royaux d'Art et d'Histoire, Brussels, 1980. 

Simeon, Margaret. The History of Lace. 
Stainer & Bell, London, 1979. 

Southard, Doris. Bobbin Lacemaking. 
Charles Scribner's Sons, New York, 1977. 


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